Among the memorable presents for my 21st birthday were two dozen homemade cream puffs from my aunt and a Pentax Spotmatic SLR from my parents. The former became a sweet memory. The latter became my companion for several decades.
If you’re of a certain vintage you’ll recall the Spotmatic. It was one of the premier cameras of its time. Back when you had to load film into a camera. When you took 24 or 36 pics, removed the film and took it to your neighbourhood camera store for developing.
The day you picked up your photos you might be aghast or delighted. You might shake your head at some, wondering why you wasted a shot. Others left you wishing you’d taken more.
That Pentax went most places I did. It went to Russia and Ukraine and Georgia. It went up and down and across mountains in the Rockies. It travelled beaches and deserts and glaciers. It spent nights tucked into my sleeping bag inside a snow-covered tent and days wrapped in plastic in a canoe. It climbed and rappelled and rambled through my life.
But all relationships end. My beloved Pentax died.
With trepidation I entered the world of digital cameras. I feared I’d never again see the quality of photos my old camera had delivered. I spent days agonizing over my choice. Finally, I settled on an Olympus C-770 UltraZoom. 4 megapixels. 10X optical zoom. Small but plenty of gusto.
It was love at first click. Like its predecessor, the Olympus went almost everywhere with me. And life was good.
Fast forward 7 years. The spring of 2011. Southern Arizona. While shooting a short film clip I heard an unsettling series of clicks inside my camera. Not good. The result was worse than I imagined. The camera refused to do anything. Nada. Zip. Zilch. The lens went in and out and nothing more.
Back home I moped from one camera store to the next. No one thought my Olympus was fixable. There were offers to send it to the manufacturer but no one held out hope. Bottom line: It would be autopsy not resuscitation.
A sombre mood settled upon me. I hadn’t been camera-less since I was about 9 or 10 and I found a small, boxy Brownie camera under the Christmas tree.
One of the most appealing features of my Olympus was its small size. Over the Pentax years I’d accumulated so many lenses and fittings and gizmos that I was always lugging a gadget bag with me. No more. The small hand-sized Olympus met my needs perfectly.
Now that “O” was laid to rest, I had the option of going with a digital SLR. But I knew I’d want another lens and a bag to put it in and a spare battery and … Nope. Ain’t gonna go there.
Short version of my search: I settled on the Canon PowerShot G12.
Call me cranky. The first weeks did not go well. It was not my Olympus. It didn’t do what “O” did. The though-the-lens optical viewfinder was a joke. There was no lens cap, just a retracting iris-like movement back into the camera. (A great dirt catcher in my mind.) The strap attachment interfered with the LCD viewer. Et cetera, ad nauseum. I began to think I’d made a terrible mistake.
Weeks passed. I went back to the camera guide. (When in doubt, read instructions.) Oh, that’s what that button does. I spent time taking random shots. Aha, that’s how to get that effect. Slowly the bond between us grew. “C” began to show its versatility. More pics. More practice. I realized I hadn’t made a mistake after all. We were going to get along just fine.
We’ve been together almost 6 years. Yes, I could trade up. More bells. Better whistles. But I like this little camera. I figure we’ve got lots of adventures left in both of us.
Life is good.
Post Script January 30, 2017
And then I changed my mind ….